Did you know that by using solar energy, you can increase your home value while lowering your energy bills? In fact, according to the Department of Energy, solar panels boosts a home’s value by an average of $15,000 – while lowering overall electric bills even with our wintery months.
Turning to solar energy isn’t just great for your wallet; it’s also great for our overall environment. Harnessing the natural energy of the sun is the best way we currently have to use energy more sustainably, so you can reduce your carbon footprint.
But before you pick up your phone to get the gears going on installing solar panels, you should consider a few things, including:
1.) Household Energy Needs: You’ll want to review your electricity usage over the past year and determine how much energy you will need to generate to help you determine the number of panels your home will need as well as estimate how much – if any – you can expect to save on your energy bill. There are many calculators online that can help you estimate your needs. This tool from Solar Estimate, for instance, can help you see the potential the costs by location.
2.) Roofing Location: Do you have a suitable location – and enough space – for the solar panels your home will require? While solar panels can be installed on almost any roof, it’s important to ensure that there are no obstructions that would prevent sunlight from reaching them.
3.) Roof Condition: Your roof must be in good condition to support the weight of the solar panels. You will want to call your contractor before installation to ensure that your roof can support their weight. Of course, any roof repairs should then be completed prior to the installation.
4.) Incentives: Installing the solar panels can be expensive, but there could be incentives available, such as rebates and tax credits, to help offset the cost. (Be sure to check with your tax accountant to confirm they’re available to you.) Additionally, Commonwealth Edison offers net metering, which allows you to “sell” excess energy back to the grid in the form of a credit on your energy bill.
5.) Possible Weather-Related Issues: As we all know, Evanston experiences diverse conditions throughout the seasons – from the extreme heat and humidity in summer – which can overheat solar panels – to the cold, wind, and snow in the winter. And while snow cover can actually enhance solar panel energy output by reflecting sunlight, our often-cloudy skies with low sunlight absorption will significantly reduce their efficiency.
6.) The Installation Process: The installation process for solar panels will vary depending on your home and the contractor you choose. It’s important to work with a reputable contractor who has experience with installing solar panels. They should be able to provide you with a detailed breakdown of the installation process, including any permits or inspections that may be required.
7.) Permitting: Make sure your contractor obtains all of the appropriate permits from City of Evanston Planning and Zoning Division to install your solar panels. Use the checklist for Evanston residents in this link to help you through the entire process.
8.) Maintenance: Solar panels can also be impacted by dirt, grime, and the accumulation of debris which can decrease their efficiency. As a result, appropriate maintenance as well as cleaning will be needed. While maintenance checks don’t need to be done frequently, you need to budget for them and keep in mind that there could be repair costs if a panel gets damaged.
9.) Energy Storage: If you don’t want to sell your excess energy to Commonwealth Edison, you might want to install a storage system. – essentially a large chargeable battery – to keep it for those days when have cloudy skies.
To determine if you want to move forward, you’ll want to take a close look at your finances and determine whether you can afford the initial cost of installing solar panels. It’s also important to consider your long-term plans for your home. If you plan on moving in the near future, installing solar panels may not be the best investment.
And there is another way to support solar energy in Evanston – community solar. You can read about in here on the City of Evanston website. The website also provides links to contractors in the area who are experienced in installing solar panels.
If you want additional help determining if installing solar panels is right for your home, feel free to contact us. We can provide advice on how we think it will impact the long-term value of your home. After all, we at Jackie Mack & More are your Evanston Experts. We are here to help.